MINI UNITED ATTRACTS SOME 6,000 FANS FROM AROUND THE WORLD 11/02/2005
Munich, Germany/Misano Adriatico, Italy. Glorious autumn sunshine lit up the MINI United event 2005 - the first official annual meeting of MINI fans from around the world - at the Misano racing circuit near Rimini. Some 6,000 visitors from more than 40 countries were there to lap up the three days of lifestyle and motorsport-inspired ambience and events.
Most of the MINI aficionados arrived in the Adriatic in their own cars, with over 1,900 MINI models - both historical and of more recent vintage - making the journey. A group of 80 British MINI enthusiasts, for example, incorporated MINI United into their annual pilgrimage to Italy following in the tyre tracks of the hit film "The Italian Job". Dimitri Kotov took the honours for the longest distance travelled, spreading the 3,660-kilometre journey from his home in Moscow to Italy over five days. Ho Hang On, meanwhile, came all the way from Hong Kong to attend the event - albeit by plane. The proud owner of the 700,000th new-generation MINI was presented with a model car in a symbolic hand-over ceremony. The jury gave the "Best of Show" award to a MINI fitted with gullwing-style doors and powered by a 177-kW (240-bhp) engine.
The visitors to Misano enjoyed three days of fun and entertainment inspired by the MINI brand. On the agenda were everything from design workshops to MINI Collection fashion shows, with the laid-back atmosphere and parties - featuring live music from renowned international artists including British DJ Sonique - contributing to the success of the event. On display for the fans were a variety of famous MINI models - including the special-edition Bisazza and Missoni-inspired versions, a MINI in XXL stretch limousine trim and the cars of David Bowie and Michael Caine - and an exclusive world premiere of the MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works GP Tuning Kit. This particularly lightweight version of the MINI Cooper S brings the MINI Challenge ambience from the racetrack to the road.
Among the numerous activities on and off the track were "taxi
rides" alongside professional drivers in a MINI Cooper S, driver safety
training, helicopter tours, karting for all-comers and the chance to complete
a few laps in your own MINI on the "Circuito Santamonica".
Belgian Maxime Martin is the first MINI Challenge world champion.
The sporting highlight of the event was the MINI Challenge World Final, in which the 20 fastest drivers in the various MINI Clubsport series battled it out for the official world championship title. The drivers went head-to-head in four different disciplines - races and a slalom test in the MINI Cooper S with John Cooper Works Tuning Kit, a test of skill over a quad driving course and karting competition back on the track. Belgium's Maxime Martin took the title ahead of Fredrik Lestrup (Sweden) and Johannes Stuck (Austria).
MINI United boiled to a spectacular climax in the shape of the Special Guest Race, in which 17 celebrity MINI enthusiasts in technically identical MINI Cooper S cars went head to head. Among the stars lining up on the grid were ex-Formula One drivers Christian Danner (Germany), Paolo Barilla (Italy) and Marc Surer (Switzerland), former touring car world champion Roberto Ravaglia (Italy), Finnish "Rally Professor" Rauno Aaltonen (winner of the 1967 Rallye Monte Carlo in a Mini), Italian singer Max Gazzè and twice ChampCar champion Alessandro Zanardi. The Italian, one of the leading drivers in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, came out on top after a thrilling battle with German MINI Challenge 2004 champion Alexander Burgstaller. "Una vittoria speziale," beamed Zanardi. "This victory is something very special for me."
11/02/2005 | | Andrew Cutler | BMW Group Press